This Canadian dealer is ready to battle for first place in Land Rover’s TReK competition.
When Land Rover announced the eight winning teams of the Land Rover TReK 2020 Qualifying Trials, an off-road driving skills competition for the brand’s North American retailers, only one Canadian dealer was on the list: Jaguar Land Rover Edmonton.
The Qualifying Trials took place in September at the Land Rover Experience Center in North Carolina. The three-man team from Edmonton included Shawn Ward, SV Brand Specialist; Cody Forrester, Service Manager; and automotive technician Cory Doll.
“Tim Satanove, our VP, was the one who suggested our dealership get involved,” says Forrester. “So we put together our team, and we did very well.”
The Qualifying Trials took place in six waves with 53 teams from all over North America. “We were one of six Canadian teams,” Ward explains. “Our score was the second highest overall for the week, and we beat all the Canadian teams to make it into the finals.”
Great white north
Jaguar Land Rover Edmonton is the only franchised store representing the brands in Edmonton, and beyond… way beyond! Forrester says the Edmonton store is the northernmost JLR dealer in Canada, and customers drive as much as 16 hours—from as far away as northern B.C. and the Northwest Territories—for sales and service.
What started off as part of a Mercedes-Benz dealership back in the early 1990s very quickly evolved into a standalone dealership that now attracts both Jaguar and Land Rover customers from hundreds of kilometres away.
The TReK competition started in 1996 as a way for Land Rover retail staff to experience the brand’s off-roading capabilities first-hand. From 1996 through 2003 these annual competitions were held across the USA. In 2001 the first global TReK competition was held in South Africa, and the last Land Rover TReK competition was held in 2003 in Colorado.
“It started in North America as a team building experience,” Ward adds. “The last time they planned to have one, prior to 2019, was 2008. Unfortunately, because of the economy at that time, the program was cancelled.” In other words, TReK is back after a 16-year hiatus, and the team from Edmonton has a strategy worked out to bring home the gold.
“Each of our team members has something that we’re good at,” Ward explains. “So it’s all about strategy and putting the right person in for the job for each part of the competition. We listened closely to the rules as they were explained the night before the competition, we devised our plan, and we decided which one of us would tackle each part of the competition.”
The Qualifying Trials were made up of 12 stages. “It started at 7am with Cody going on a 5km run, while I went on a 7km bike ride, and Cory had to kayak out onto a lake to find a rubber duck with a code on it,” Ward explains. “In addition, we had to rough it the night before since we had to camp overnight in the woods.”
After the gruelling 7am workout, each team had to complete a number of stages in their vehicles, including rock crawling, vehicle maneuverability and team communication, precision vehicle recovery, water fording, and much more.
Appreciation for the brand
Each team was equipped with an identically customized 2020 Land Rover Discovery. “Each vehicle probably had about $15k of accessories on it, including a 2-inch lift kit, a winch, roof racks with a spare tire on top, hi-lift jack, an array of LED lights, rock slider guards for the undercarriage of the vehicle, and more,” Ward says. “The retail value of each vehicle was roughly $115k.”
After spending an entire day pushing each vehicle to its limits, the teams walked away with a renewed appreciation for the real-world off-roading abilities of a Land Rover. “It gives you a real appreciation for the brand and for what a Land Rover is capable of,” Forrester says. “When you see your team members driving over rocks, using a winch to maneuver in tough terrain, it makes you more passionate about the brand and about what it stands for.”
The team from Jaguar Land Rover Edmonton will head to the TReK Finals, which will be held in January 2020 in Palm Springs, California, where they will compete head-to-head with their American counterparts behind the wheel of the new 2020 Land Rover Defender.
“The Finals are taking place in conjunction with the Defender training for dealer staff from all over North America,” Ward says. “We’re looking forward to representing Canada, and we hope to bring back a win.”